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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   17 [November 1831]

4 Clarence Baths | Devonport

My dear Fox

I daresay you will be surprised to see my hand-writing, you I suppose thought that I was far on the high seas.— We have had delay after delay & now we do not sail till the 5th of next month.— I always had intended writing to you before making my final exit.— But as that period is so far distant.—I made up my mind to do it earlier.— I do not think I can do better than give you an outline of the Instructions, which came down yesterday.— They leave a great deal to the Captains judgement, & I am sure they could not leave it to a better one.—

We first go to Canary or Teneriffe, then to Cape Verd, Fernando Norunha, Rio de Janeiro, staying about a week in each of these places & rather longer at Rio.— I am very glad that, for I hear there is no view in the world at all equal to it.— Then Monte Video, which will be our headquarters for some time, or rather I should say, the point to which we often return for fresh provisions &c.— From Monte Video, we begin our regular work & go down the coast of Patagonia: parts of Terra del Fuego.—Falklands Islands:— After this done, we have some work about island of Chiloe, & then we are to proceed as far Northward as Captain likes (I daresay to California) so as to leave time to make a good traverse amongst Islands to New S Wales, after which take short cut amongst E Indian Islands, Cape of good Hope, so home.—

Every body, who can judge, says it is one of the grandest voyages that has almost ever been sent out.— Everything is on a grand scale.— 24 Chronometers. The whole ship is fitted up with Mahogany, she is the admiration of the whole place.— In short everything is as prosperous as human means can make it— Time, which no one can alter, is the only serious inconvenience.— Why, I shall be an old man, by the time I return, far too old to look out for a little wife. What a number of changes will have happened; I suppose you will be married & have at least six small children.— I shall very much enjoy seeing you attempting to nurse all six at once.— & I shall sit by the fire & tell such wondrous tales, as no man will believe.— When I think of all that I am going to see & undergo, it really requires an effort of reasoning to persuade myself, that all is true.— That I shall see the same land, that Captain Cook did. I almost doubt the truth of the old truism, that man may do, what man has done.— when I think that I, an unfortunate landsman, am going to undertake such a voyage,—I long for the time, when sea sickness will drown all such feelings & that time I do suppose will be the 5th of next month.— Will you write to me, & tell me, how you are getting on.— I heard of you at the Music Meeting & that you sat by the incomparable Charlotte. Report progress. I have hooked her into a correspondence.

Good bye | Yours affectionately | Chas Darwin *S 2



Still delayed; will not sail until 5 December. Instructions have come, with proposed itinerary.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
NO 1〈7〉 1831
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 45)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 149,” accessed on 20 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1